After spending almost nine months in Germany, both on-exchange and doing internships in 2017 and 2018, my interest in international travel and foreign language really flourished. Classroom foreign language never really felt right, but I became drawn to the trial by fire method of immersion for language learning. I did have the opportunity to go back to Germany for this gap year and spend ten months doing internships and exploring careers like my sister had, but it didn’t feel 100% right for me. I saw RYE as an opportunity to learn a new language and discover a new culture.
When I first applied for the RYE program last fall, I did not know where I would be going, what language I would be learning, or when I would leave or return. All I knew was that I wanted to explore a country far from home, experience a world completely different from mine, and come out with a language I could use often in my everyday life.
After being accepted to the program in January and attending the first orientation, it was still a few weeks before I found out what country I would be going to. The reason it takes so long is because Rotary has to both find a district and club that will host a student as well as one that has a student to send. Our local district also has to find host countries and clubs for the other eight RYE students in our district. As the nine of us waited for our country announcements, we became good friends and were nervous together! On January 28th, 2019, I was invited to my local rotary club where Vicki Bencken, the District 5180 RYE Outbound Coordinator announced that I would be going to Bolivia!! Not only was Bolivia in my top three preferred countries, it meant that I would be both in South America and learning Spanish.